Islamic State seizes 550 families as human shields in Mosul – U.N.

Al Shabaab
File image of a suspected Al-Shabaab militant in Lamu. PHOTO / COURTESY

Islamic State militants have taken 550 families from villages around Mosul and are holding them close to Islamic State (ISIL) locations in the Iraqi city, probably as human shields, the U.N. human rights office said on Friday (October 21).

“We are gravely concerned by reports that ISIL (Islamic State) is using the civilians in and around Mosul as human shields as the Iraqi forces advance. They are keeping civilians close to their offices or places where fighters are located,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said in a statement read out by spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani.

Iraqi and Kurdish forces, with air and ground support from the U.S.-led coalition, are pursuing operations to seize territory around Mosul in preparation for an offensive on the jihadists’ last major stronghold in Iraq.

Shamdasani, citing “verified information” from local contacts, said 200 families were forced to walk to Mosul from Samalia village on 17 October, and another 350 families left Najafia village for Mosul on the same day.

The office was also investigating “corroborated information” that Islamic State militants had killed 40 civilians in one village outside Mosul. She declined to give details.

Zeid said that Iraq must respect international law when screening civilians leaving areas controlled by Islamic State, a job that should only be done by army and police.


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